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Study: More Kids Exposed to Online Porn, Fewer Predators
By: Michael Hayes (Courtesy of XBIZ.com)
Posted: 8/10/2006

Durham, N.H. — A study of online child safety from the University of New Hampshire’s Crimes Against Children Research Center presented a mixed bag, finding that while incidents of predators approaching children were down, the rate of children being exposed to adult content online was up.

The report, titled “Online Victimization of Youth: Five Years Later,” collected information from 1,500 children ranging in age from 10-17.

According to the study, children who were exposed to online adult content jumped from 25 percent in 2000 to 34 percent in 2005.

The study speculated that a possible reason for the jump in the rate of children being exposed to online pornography were aggressive marketing tactics by adult content affiliates.

“Pornography marketers use methods such as pop-up ads, adware and various other sorts of hidden and malicious software, which do things such as hijacking browsers and directing computers to pornography websites,” the study said. “Unethical marketers install these programs on computers without the permission or knowledge of Internet users by, for example, bundling them with game demos and music youth may download or disguising download links as patches or upgrades.”

According to ASACP Executive Director Joan Irvine, responsible members of the adult entertainment community work hard to keep children from viewing content intended for adults.

"Fortunately, the majority of adult companies behave responsibly," Irvine told XBIZ. "Most ASACP members already use ‘warning’ pages and other methods to keep kids off their sites, and ASACP’s new labeling project should help make sure adult sites will be clearly identifiable as such, and will be viewed only by adults who want to view them."

Looking at data collected in the study from 2000 and comparing it with more recent information, researchers concluded that the number of children who were victims of sexual advances from online predators had dropped from 19 percent five years ago to 13 percent today.

“It may be a sign people are paying attention to warnings they receive about online dangers," study author Professor Janis Wolak said. "They are being more cautious about who they are interacting with online."

Wolak also added that the study showed that fears surrounding social networking sites such as MySpace were overblown.

"People have fears that these crimes involve offenders and predators who look at these social networking sites and then seek to identify these kids," Wolak said. "That’s not really what’s going on."

The study was financed by the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children with a grant from the U.S. Justice Department.

New Hampshire research center President Ernie Allen hesitated to call the report good news, saying that while overall incidents of online predator solicitations were down, the more aggressive incidents of online predators remained constant at 4 percent.

According to Allen, 7 percent of children solicited actually meet online predators in person.


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